The recently published Banque Libano-Française (BLF) bi-annual CSR Report, marks a quantum leap in CSR reporting quality and standards compared to previously published reports in 2013 and 2015.
Believing that sustainability is a journey shaped by countless small and big experiences, ongoing learning and improvement, Banque Libano-Française took in 2018 its reporting to a new level by preparing its 2016-2017 Report in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standard Core Option, besides being in line with the requirements of the UN Global Compact’s Communication on Progress (COP) and the ISO 26000 guidelines on Social Responsibility.
According to the Report, ever since BLF’s establishment, the Bank has looked beyond the bottom line by fostering economic growth and contributing to a better society. Inspired by its five founding values, responsibility, integrity, skills, humanism and commitment, and guided by a solid corporate governance framework, the Bank adopted a holistic CSR strategy revolving around the four main CSR pillars: Workplace, Marketplace, Community and Environment.
BLF’s sustainability agenda is a board level mandate, which is a critical factor towards establishing a continued pledge to sustainability and responsible practices. The Bank’s sustainability direction lies in how they do business. BLF succeeded in earning its social licence to operate and the trust of its stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, suppliers, and employees by conducting business responsibly, whether as an entity with more than 1,700 employees, or through its business products and services.
Sustainability at Core
The Bank’s CSR strategy is clearly portrayed in the report, providing a roadmap for what to expect, read and explore. The Bank’s stakeholder groups can easily be identified right from the beginning of the report, thanks to the convenient mapping of these stakeholders along with engagement opportunities positively managing the Bank’s relationship with them. A flow of achievements, initiatives and policies has been listed in line with what has been identified as material interests for the Bank and its stakeholders, focusing on the Bank’s key target areas of sustainability: sustainable lending, sustainable financial innovation, sustainable support to the community, sustainable environmental strategy, and sustainable engagement with stakeholders.
Being a responsibly managed Bank involves a commitment to recognizing and addressing the needs of everyone whose success contributes to their own. This is evident in the report, showing how this extends not just to customers and shareholders, but also to the Bank’s employees and the communities where it does business. BLF demonstrated their commitment to enhancing customer protection, lending fairly, balancing stakeholder interests and operating the Bank with integrity, while caring for their employees’ rights, development, and well-being, and their impacts on the environment, internally and externally, as well as on the community through its business operations and offerings, mainly by facilitating youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. Many examples of this in practice are included in the report, backed with tangible initiatives and performance indicators.
The report also outlines BLF’s adoption of a multi-year and multi-platform strategy with the aim of establishing environmental sustainability as a core component of the Bank’s leadership and commitment to sustainable banking and shared values. Within this strategy, BLF has undertaken many industry-leading initiatives, including developing Sustainable Energy Finance programs, loans and services. In 2016 and 2017, the total value of all green loans provided by BLF amounted to $47.5 million. “BLF was the first bank in the MENA region to sign, in partnership with IFC, a Sustainable Energy Finance Program, aiming to raise awareness and protect the environment, reduce costs and spread growth in Lebanon,” says Raya Raphaël Nahas, the Bank’s General Manager, who was quoted in the report.
An Embracing Journey
BLF’s stakeholders are a critical part of the economic and social fabric where the Bank operates. Notably, and driven by its belief that the Bank can have an impact on its stakeholders and the community at large, BLF didn’t only focus on raising awareness internally among its employees, but also invested significant efforts to sensitize as many stakeholders as possible within its sphere of influence on social and environmental issues. A matter that stresses on the Bank’s commitment to change and making a real difference on the long term.
Banque Libano-Française’s CSR Report illustrates the Bank’s stance on how sustainability is a source of competitive advantage. The Bank has applied its core expertise and functional capabilities to support solutions to shared global issues such as environmental performance, cultural preservation, economic development, amongst others. Over the past two years, BLF supported 869 beneficiaries in the four focus areas of culture, education, humanitarian and social causes, and economic development. The community spending has increased by 38% from 2014 to 2017 to help meet the complex challenges the country is facing and to reduce inequalities. According to this report, BLF has invested over $3 million in sponsoring community projects in 2016 and 2017.
BLF’s Report reflects the Bank’s approach to CSR that stems from a firm belief that CSR is a continuously-evolving journey and is perceived in the Bank’s CSR progress throughout the years.
Author: Ghada Hassan - Responsible Business
Source: Responsible Business Magazine